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Valley News Dispatch

Highlands Middle School could host proposed rain garden

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, 12:36 p.m.
A rain garden proposed to be built on the grounds of Highlands Middle School at Broadview Boulevard and California Avenue in Harrison would include seating, educational signage, a gravel path and native wetland plants.
Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
A rain garden proposed to be built on the grounds of Highlands Middle School at Broadview Boulevard and California Avenue in Harrison would include seating, educational signage, a gravel path and native wetland plants.
An illustration shows the location of a proposed rain garden on the grounds at Highlands Middle School in Harrison. It would be built this year as part of a grant-funded project by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy that is also seeing trees planted in the township.
Submitted | Harrison Township
An illustration shows the location of a proposed rain garden on the grounds at Highlands Middle School in Harrison. It would be built this year as part of a grant-funded project by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy that is also seeing trees planted in the township.

Ground at Highlands Middle School has been selected as the site of a “green infrastructure” project in Harrison.

If permitted by the school district, the proposed rain garden would be built this year, said Jeff Bergman, director of community forestry with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

The garden is part of a $125,000 project funded by a grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation that is also seeing trees planted in the township. Volunteers planted 27 trees in November ; Bergman said another 13 are planned to be planted in April.

The project’s design team is expected to do a brief presentation on the rain garden project to the Highlands School Board at its meeting on Monday. The board will meet at 7 p.m. in the library at Highlands High School.

A community meeting on the project will be held in April, Bergman said.

Because the site at the corner of Broadview Boulevard and California Avenue is on school district property, the district will have to give its approval, Bergman said.

Highlands spokeswoman Jennifer Goldberg said the district had no comment on the project.

Bergman said four locations in Harrison were considered.

“We think it’s a good site because it’s accessible, there could be some educational opportunities for the students, and it’s where they’ve had some issues with controlling water,” he said.

Bergman said the garden will control stormwater coming from the middle school and the site. It would be incorporated into the existing landscaping and include benches and a path. Plantings will be of species native to Pennsylvania, and Bergman said it will be “pretty low-maintenance.”

The garden will be able to capture about 1,500 cubic feet of stormwater, said Nina Chase, owner of Merritt Chase, a Pittsburgh landscape architecture firm and the project’s prime consultant.

“We are going to be incorporating signage to explain how a rain garden works,” she said. “We would also, if the budget allows, put labels on some of the plants and trees we’ll be installing so students can learn which plants are being used in the rain garden.”

The garden’s design will be finalized over the winter. Construction could take place in May and June, Bergman said.

“We’re having a really great experience working with the Harrison Township folks,” Bergman said. “Their enthusiasm is really contributing to the ongoing success of the project.”

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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